Fewer Food Drives Yield More Food in Middlesex County

MCFOODS, the county food pantry distribution network, showed there were fewer food drives last year, but 50 tons more food was collected for the needy

Last year was marked by a shortage in food drives, yet there was a slight
uptick in donations, according to an annual report from Middlesex County’s official food bank.

From 2011 to 2012, the Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services (MCFOODS) tracked a 22 percent decline in the number of MCFOODS-affiliated food drives, a sum that totaled 170 by December’s end. In contrast, food donations increased by a little more than 50 tons from the year prior, climaxing at 434 tons during that same time frame.

MCFOODS organizers attributed the tonnage increase to contributions from local residents, businesses and even some out-of-state entities following Hurricane Sandy’s Oct. 29 landfall in Central Jersey.

Permanent collection sites, like area libraries, contributed 13 tons, the Middlesex County Spring School Food Drive gave 58 tons and the Monroe Fall Harvest Food Drive contributed five tons in 2012. Additionally, product donations from regional business and other organizations accounted for 238 tons and Hurricane Sandy relief supplies more than 50 tons.

Operated by the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, MCFOODS opens its doors to an average of 42 organizations – soup kitchens, community pantries and church groups – with weekly distributions of approximately nine tons or 18,000 pounds of food and supplies. These distributions are coordinated from a New Brunswick-based warehouse; a facility provided by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

“Hunger doesn’t know a season or an income level –in this economy it might be your neighbor, best friend or even family member that’s seeking assistance,” said MCFOODS Project Manager Jennifer Apostol. “We hope Middlesex County residents will realize how close to home hunger really hits and that 2013 will bring increased community awareness and subsequently, activism.”

Despite recent statistics, Apostol is optimistic that a new year will spark a renewed interest from food drive sponsors.

“Sponsoring a food drive is a great way to instill values in our children, make new friends in the community or just spread some good will,” she added. “When you do good, you feel good.”

MCFOODS provides several tools to assist any individual, organization or business that sponsors a drive, including informational flyers, storage containers, and transportation of donations.

For more information on the MCFOODS program, log onto www.mciauth.com or contact Apostol at 609-409-5033. You can also e-mail her at ja@mciauth.com.

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